A few thoughts before exhibition game No.1.
• Your starting lineup: Jose Calderon at point; Marco Belinelli at two; DeMar DeRozan at three; Reggie Evans at four and Andrea Bargnani at five.
• Don't expect too much in the way of energy. The Raptors didn't shoot around before the game; they practised. The difference? A shoot-around is an easy jog, some jump shots and a walk through some sets. It's like a light early morning workout. You feel energized, you have something to eat and most guys get a nap. When game time comes guys aren't tired, they're ready to go. Yesterday the Raptors got taped up and went for 90 minutes. The game was being treated as a scrimmage with (replacement) refs.
• We got to watch the last few minutes of practice and I was fascinated to watch Marc Iavaroni work with the big men. I've seen my share of snippets of NBA workouts and they tend to be a bit languid. We all love basketball, but actually working at it can have a limited appeal at times, even when it's your job. The result is the same old workouts that guys go through at half speed with the coaches looking as bored as the players. That won't be an issue with Iavaroni. As he had the Raptors big go through a list of situations - post-ups timed to wait for the cutter to go through; flashes to the high-post and a back-door action and then dribble hand-offs with a screen-and-roll finish - Iavoroni was locked in. He had one line I thought was really good about catching the ball with your back to the basket: "You have to be a head's-up player; some guys have their eyes down and those are the guys who are going to be trapped because that's going to be on someone's scouting report." It's basic stuff, but there's no level where attention to detail isn't important and having a coach with an appetite to teach the detail and pay attention to it can only contribute to overall success.
• Raptors TV is showing the game, but don't adjust your sets. The court really is brown and yellow.
• Saw Jason Kapono for a few minutes heading out to the bus. Same old joker. He's on his fifth team: "People only like me for a year, maybe two."